What Will Santa Do If Naughty And Nice Are The Same?

Santa must be puzzling over whether our dog Honey will earn a piece of coal or a package of liverwurst.

After all, what do you do if naughty and nice are the same thing?

Honey the golden retriever and Pam in dinghy.

If I’m naughty, does that mean you’ll stop letting me go on boat rides?

My Dog Is Naughty – Part 1

Honey is a great dog. But she has one naughty habit.

In fact, she is so naughty in this area that she almost failed her Canine Good Citizen test.

No matter how much training, how much practice, Honey is a naughty greeter.

If the dock master makes goo goo eyes at her while we’re docking, we worry that Honey will jump off the boat to meet him.

A friend visits in the cockpit and Honey wants to crawl into their lap.

Honey the golden retriever in the cockpit with Taryn from Tails of Two Cardis.

Okay, I DID love her. But you took the duck feet down below. Something compels me to follow you.

When tourists walking around town spot her and make happy noises, she pulls on the leash to say hello.

I’ve tried to use her usually perfect down-stay cue. I’ve used treats to compete with the draw of a friendly stranger. But nothing works.

Well. one thing works.

If the stranger ignores her or offers only the calmest greeting, Honey settles down quickly. But with the least bit of encouragement, she goes nuts.

My Dog Is Nice – Part 1

Honey is the most friendly dog ever.

She loves all people. She wants everyone to be her friend.

It’s hard to feel low when she starts the whole-body wiggle at the sight of someone she loves. And as I mentioned earlier, she loves EVERYONE.

Honey the golden retriever runs into the store.

The man thought it would make a nice picture of my sitting and waiting for the woman to come out of the store.

I’m not proud when she stands on someone’s lap and breathes into their face. Or when she pulls on her leash to rush up to someone who wants to meet her.

Honey the golden retriever is captured at the store.

Boy, did I surprise him. Luckily the woman grabbed my leash before I ran into the store and started giving lovies to everyone there.

But in the scheme of things, as long as she has enough judgment to not hurt anyone (and she appears to know when to tame her enthusiasm if a recipient is vulnerable), I see this trait as more nice than naughty.

So I will keep training by rewarding her for calm greetings. And I’ll do some management by tethering her when people visit.

But for now, I see her naughtiness as fairly nice.

My Dog Is Nice – Part 2

Honey came to live with us when she was 8 weeks old. Two weeks later, she was nearly perfectly house trained and sleeping through the night.

Honey the golden retriever puppy rests in her crate.

I was such a scary puppy, they kept me in a cage. Like a tiger or lion. Grrrrrrrrr.

It was an effort.

Honey came to work with me until she was perfectly house trained and able to stay home alone for more than a couple of hours.

When she was a young adolescent, Honey got very sick from swallowing a squeaky toy that blocked her intestine. Despite suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, she had very few accidents in the house.

This dog’s house training is rock solid.

My Dog Is Naughty – Part 2

Did I mention we live on a boat?

We know tons of people cruising with pets.

Cats are easy. They have a litter box.

But most dogs learn how to relieve themselves on the boat. If they don’t, their people have to take them off the boat at least twice a day.

Did I mention we take Honey off the boat at least twice a day?

Honey the boat dog goes off in the dinghy for a walk.

When it’s pouring down raining, I briefly consider peeing on the boat. But then… nah.

Yep, despite trying to train her to potty on a mat before we moved on board, Honey has never taken to it.

And because of that, we don’t have any near plans to visit the Bahamas. The British Virgin Islands are off the table. And forget about the Mediterranean.

So while people losing sleep while house training a puppy would envy our success with Honey, when we’re searching frantically for an abandoned boat ramp in a snake-infested nature preserve in the pouring rain for the dog to pee, she feels kinda naughty to me.

Sometimes Naughty Is Nice And Nice Is Naughty

I haven’t given up on training Honey to greet strangers calmly. And I still try to get her to “go” on the deck.

But I know how blessed I am to have Honey. And if she’s just a little bit naughty, maybe that’s okay.

After all, why should my dog to be perfect when I’m not? And I don’t believe in Santa anyway.

Your Turn: Have you ever decided to accept your dog’s “naughtiness” and even see it as “nice?”

This month, the theme for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hopย is Naughty & Nice: Your Dog’s Good Points and Bad Points and How You’re Working to Improve Them. All positive training posts, though, are welcome. The hop is open all week, so please join us with your positive training posts and be sure to check out all the great blogs linking up with Travels with Barley,ย Wag ‘n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier.Positive pet training blog hop.





  1. She’s the sweetest girl, and I’m sure Santa will reward her accordingly. If he’s lucky, she’ll sit on his lap and breath in is face. <3

  2. There are worse things than a fur-iendly pup. Sam thinks everyone we meet in the neighborhood needs some pet therapy which he is all too happy to provide and very sad when we can’t provide it. While it’s hard to believe, some people just aren’t that keen on having 58 lbs. of tail wagging leaning on them. We took a vote…everyone thought Honey was super nice! ๐Ÿ˜

    • Honey is happy to hear about democracy in action. She’s buoyed by her success and thinking of running for president. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. We all love people and great them enthusiastically as well. Mom loves us to jump on her, so it is not really possible to train us not to jump. She accepts it and figures it is better to have overly friendly girls than mean ones! Sometimes naughty is performed with nice intentions.

    • I love having Honey sit on my lap. But I have observed some dog lovers who encourage her to get all excited who aren’t quite as thrilled once they see just how “friendly” she can be.

      But yeah, I agree with your mom that overly friendly is just fine.

  4. None of those things sound naughty to me! (Although having to take her to land to pee… wow!)

    • It has been a rough week–cold, rainy, and windy, Luckily, she’s as happy splashing in puddles as she is in the sunshine. So it’s hard to resent what we have to do.

  5. If those are the naughtiest things she does you’ve got a pretty solid dog ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so hard to fault any dog for being over friendly – in my own version of a perfect world that’s exactly how I’d want to be greeted.

  6. I’m sure Honey’s name is at the very top of Santa’s nice list!! Although I do hope one of her NY Resolutions is to learn the potty pad for everyone’s sake! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • We’ll see if peeing is one of Honey’s resolutions but I’m not hopeful. I’m discovering they call it error-free house training for a reason. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. GR’s are not bred to be naughty

  8. Blueberryโ€™s human says:

    I think the friendly enthusiastic greetings seem pretty great! Although I would probably be desperate enough to go on the mat myself to show Honey itโ€™s okay. If you do try that, make sure no one is around or it could raise a few eyebrows. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Iโ€™ll have to get back to you on Blueberryโ€™s nice/naughty behavior. Lol

    • We sailed with someone who peed on his deck to teach the dog. Didn’t work.

      However, if you think peeing on the deck would raise eyebrows, you obviously haven’t spent much time around sailors. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As for Blueberry–with looks like that, who cares if she’s naughty or nice? ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Mike Webster says:

    Humans are simpler than dogs. Pam considers my refusal to pee on the foredeck of our boat unambiguously nice. But she considers my tendency to climb into the lap of anyone who’s offering Coke and breath mints unambiguously naughty.

  10. Ha! Mr. N shares some of the same “faults.” He once jumped into the lap of a hunter WITH A GUN to say hi while the guy was hunting ducks. He also refuses to go on pads which makes plane trips slightly difficult.

    • Honey thinks Mr N has the right idea–both on pee pads and loving up hunters.

      A few days ago, Mike took her off to a boat ramp for her morning break. A little while later, a hunter showed up to practice retrieving with his Labs. Honey only had eyes for the hunter.

  11. Aww, you have to love the quirks that make each dog unique and special. Sounds like you are accepting of Honey and her naughty quirks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I’m glad I don’t have to take Richie on a boat! He has the same nice-yet-naughty approach to housetraining. Even if there is a blizzard outside or it’s pouring rain (conditions in which he hesitates to venture out to do his business), he won’t go on a pee pad or one of those fake grass “indoor potties.” He even turns up his nose at the indoor pet relief areas at airports. Luckily he is able to “hold it” for long periods of time if necessary.

  13. Honey is such a good, good girl–even when she’s being a little bit naughty! Barley is very similar with greeting people. She’ll stay in her sit–with her front legs dancing a bit–but the second somebody touches her, she is all over them (thankfully, she doesn’t jump, but she will crawl in laps, lean on legs, and insist that someone be touching her at all times). Thanks for joining the hop!

  14. That was a tremendous post that seemed familiar to anyone who has loved a dog. Angel K was the same way about people, every single one of them. As she walked on leash, she’d try to catch the eyes of people on the street. If they looked at her, the full body wiggle started along with the monkey noises. If the person dared truly approach, I think that she rivaled Honey in her enthusiasm. I agree – it is the nicest kind of naughty!

    I don’t envy your doggy rest stop situation. You are saints, and so is Honey!

  15. Yes, Counter surfing. It’s suppose to be naughty, but after so many years of not being able to train Chance and Blaze to quit it, I learn to accept it. Now they are part of my housekeeping army.

    At least two out of four dogs have a job to do and do a good job at it.

    The other two, well, they are lucky they are cute.

    p.s. Honey can jump on me any day. I love it!

  16. What is not a problem for someone can definitely be an issue for someone else. Who wouldn’t love a dog who absolutely won’t pee in the house? Only people living on a boat! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Having a dog who is reactive to strangers isn’t as bad for an introvert like me than it might be for someone far more social. But there are times I could do without all the work and drama when we do have people over our house!
    Honey must definitely have Santa scratching his head, but we feel pretty sure he’ll land on the “nice” side.

  17. I’m naughty…because when I see Honey…Oh that sweet girl. And I will encourage her naughtiness. ๐Ÿ™

    Who knows, maybe some day she will learn to potty on board.

  18. We accidently taught Harlow to be over friendly with visitors. When we first got her, she’d had such a hard life that she was scared of everyone. We encouraged everyone to love on her and it backfired. Now she loves everyone and thinks everyone wants her fluffy feet on them. We just don’t have the heart to stop her. She is good in public, thankfully, but there are some places where she just can’t help herself – like home, or the agility field.

    Monty, Harlow, and Ramble

  19. I was slow to be completely reliable on the housetraining front. They would take me outside and wait for ages for something to happen. Then they’d leave me alone for a couple of minutes and it was like I’d exploded! They even asked the vet if there was something wrong with me, but he said it was nothing to worry about – it was just that my digestive tract was working at its peak to help me grow so fast. ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. I am impressed your dog is cool with living on a boat! None of my dogs would have been down with that, and I doubt any of my cats would be.